IMPEACHMENT. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno braces for the resumption of the House impeachment hearings expected to expose the issues that several justices have against her. Photo by Lian Buan/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – A week before the impeachment hearings resume at the House committee on justice, the camp of Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said they expect an "intensified" smear campaign against her.
“We expect her detractors to intensify their smear campaign against the Chief Justice to cover up for the fatally defective impeachment case. It is our position that if there is a strong case against the Chief Justice, it should have long been elevated to the Senate for trial,” Sereno’s spokesperson lawyer Jojo Lacanilao said in a statement on Monday, January 8.
Lacanilao also responded to reports that 10 justices in total will testify "against" Sereno. Lacanilao said a testimony is not necessarily against Sereno. (READ: Sereno impeachment: Cracks in the Supreme Court)
“Given the possible nature of their testimonies, it is unfair to conclude that the justices who are invited to the coming hearings are testifying against the Chief Justice,” Lacanilao said.
After retired justice Arturo Brion and Associate Justices Francis Jardeleza, Noel Tijam and Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Andres Reyes, and Samuel Martires will supposedly also testify.
Carpio has asked the justice committee for a specified list of topics should he testify.
Lacanilao said Carpio may testify on the allegation that Sereno manipulated the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) shortlist to exclude Jardeleza, then a solicitor general.
Lacanilao pointed out that it was Carpio’s issue with Jardeleza which led Sereno to invoke the unanimity rule in coming up with the JBC shortlist.
“Carpio’s main contention was that Jardeleza had seriously compromised the Philippine interests in deleting the country’s position that Itu Aba is not an island but a rock. If the arbitral tribunal did not rule on this, Itu Aba would be the basis for China to encroach on Philippine territory,” Lacanilao said.
When the hearings concluded for 2017 last December, committee chairman Reynaldo Umali said that the testimonies raise the question of whether Sereno is still fit to hold public office.
Lacanilao maintained that all the information threshed out so far do not constitute an impeachable offense.
Complainant Larry Gadon is confident he has accusations to unleash against Sereno.
"Sila na lang ang hindi nakakaalam na malapit na ma-impeach si CJ Sereno (They are the only ones who don't know that Sereno will soon be impeached and convicted) because of their denials and refusal to see and hear the truth," Gadon said. – Rappler.com